Rio Ferdinand has named Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player he ever played alongside and has revealed the details that made him one of the best of all-time.
Ronaldo and Ferdinand spent six years together as teammates at Manchester United before the Portugal forward left for Real Madrid and continued his development to become the greatest goalscorer in the history of the game.
He then re-joined the Old Trafford club this summer after phone conversations with Ferdinand, among others, and has started his second spell brilliantly with four goals in three games despite being 36-years-old now.
The legendary defender was sitting down with World Heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua with William Hill for a conversation to promote ‘AJ’s title defence against Oleksandr Usyk this weekend when the boxer asked who was Ferdinand’s best teammate and what made them so great.
“Obviously Cristiano Ronaldo is just ridiculous,” Ferdinand said.
“When he joined us he was a baby but his intelligence to grow and his obsession to get better and his desire to be the best was just relentless. I’ve never seen anything like it, he was just a man possessed to get to the top and would do anything to get there.”
Joshua asked what he could do to learn from Ronaldo as an athlete and Ferdinand outlined an important quality that is often overlooked.
“I think you’ve got to be brave. People don’t talk about Cristiano’s bravery. He was brave to take risks, by which I mean he came over to another country. He was brave to remain the person that he was, he didn’t change really. He adapted, yes, but he didn’t change his core foundations. He became an obsessive with the sport he chose, and then drilled down into details.
“He built a team around himself, ie I went around his house one time and he had six or seven people sitting in his front room. I asked him who are all these people and he said it was his personal masseur, his nutritionist, his doctor, his physio, his chef. Back then, nobody was doing that in our game so he was a visionary in that sense. He knew what it was going to take.
“If people we laughing at him for doing extras at one time, by the time he became World Player of the Year they were saying they were going to copy that.”
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Joshua then claimed that there was a lot of pressure on him now that he had re-joined Manchester United after so long away and so much success, but Ferdinand was quick to brush that away.
“I don’t think he feels pressure. I think he expects it now. That’s pressure he puts on himself, he’s not dodging the question. He’s come here to win trophies and if he doesn’t it’s a disappointment. It’s a different mentality man.”